For most of its recent history, preparedness has largely been the domain of conservatives and libertarians. Routinely accused by the media of wearing tinfoil hats and other comical headgear, preppers were mocked for their concerns about an economic crash, nuclear weapons from rogue nations and the occasional zombie apocalypse.
Last year the thought of Hillary Clinton taking the reins of the federal swamp and further dismantling our constitutional freedoms was so dismaying that preparedness ratcheted into high gear. But when Trump was elected, suddenly the shoe was on the other foot. Abruptly, liberals saw how oppressive and invasive a hostile administration could be. We saw headlines like the following:
- Trumpocalypse? Suddenly liberals are the ones stockpiling food, guns and emergency supplies
- Comedian Patton Oswalt melts down over Trump presser, advises fellow liberals to ‘hoard food’
- Liberal preppers are ‘tired of being perceived as wusses’ – stock up on guns, food as Trumpocalypse looms
- Bomb-shelter builder stays busy as customers prep for ‘Trumpocalypse’
- New ‘Doomsday’ prediction aimed at Trump
- Trump has caused a growing number of liberals to start prepping for an apocalypse
- New Yorkers are taking self-defense courses in droves to survive Trump era
- Liberal preppers continue to ready for Trump apocalypse
When conservatives are preppers, the mainstream media paint them as nut jobs. But when liberals become preppers? Why, it’s just as a wise thing to do.
Things have calmed down in the last few months, but for those of us in the prepper community, we’re noticing something different: namely, the changing face of self-sufficiency.
Preparedness and self-sufficiency are two different things, although there is a fair bit of overlap. Whereas preparedness focuses on handling potential disasters ranging from short-term storm-related power outages to the proverbial zombie apocalypse, self-sufficiency (or self-reliance) is a longer-reaching and more sensible philosophy. It teaches its adherents to depend less on outside goods and services (including those offered by the government) and instead look to one’s self for the basic necessities of life.
Self-reliance encompasses many things, and everyone has their own criteria. Growing and raising food, heating with wood, homeschooling children, self-employment, off-grid living, even an on-the-road lifestyle are all aspects of self-reliance. You don’t have to be liberal or conservative to embrace these choices; you just have to have a desire to be less dependent on others. It’s a movement I applaud to the highest degree.
This past weekend, my husband and I made a rare trip together to visit some friends in Oregon and attend the Mother Earth News Fair, which offered vendors, speakers, and workshops geared toward increasing knowledge and independence. The friends, Dave and Ilene Duffy, are publishers of the excellent journal Backwoods Home Magazine; their adult children run the superb spin-off Self-Reliance Magazine.
At this event, my husband and I manned the Backwoods Home booth, attended workshops, strolled around and spoke to vendors, and browsed the books on sale. Since we were in a progressive city at an event run by a progressive organization, it was expected that most of the crowd was on the left side of the political spectrum. But what we found refreshing was how interested people were in learning to depend on themselves for their needs. Every workshop was packed, every speaker was well-attended, and every booth was thronged.
The original hippies (to whom Mother Earth News was geared) wanted nothing more than to do things for themselves. They wanted to educate their own children, grow and preserve their own food, power their own homes and just be left alone to do their own thing, man. Over the subsequent two generations, that attitude gradually shifted to expectations that others would provide their needs, as long as those needs met their progressive criteria. Schools would educate their children, as long as they taught climate change and social justice. Grocery stores would provide their food, as long as they offered organic, free-range options. Power companies would provide their electricity as long as some of it came from renewable sources.
But gradually a few progressives have come to realize something conservatives learned a long time ago: Whenever someone else provides your needs, your freedom to be left alone decreases. If the government delivers health care, then alternative medicine is shunned. If the government provides food, you have no choice to but eat what they tell you to eat. If the government educates your children, it doesn’t matter if you object to the course content.
But the old cliché is correct: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Depending on others can be dangerous, whether it’s food or education or medicine or any other necessity.
So what we witnessed at this fair – and in articles highlighted above – are just a small sampling of the growing (recapturing?) interest by the left in self-reliance, in doing things for themselves.
However, I feel compelled to offer a word of warning to those now exploring self-reliance: It may well turn you from a liberal into a libertarian. How? Well, sooner or later, you’ll discover you don’t like the idea of social justice and fairness redistribution being applied to the literal fruits of your own labors.
When you harvest 50 pounds of strawberries you grew and picked by the sweat of your brow, you’re going to be mighty annoyed if a nosy social justice warrior demands you “share” those strawberries with everyone else because it’s not “fair” you have that much fruit when others don’t (even though you did all the work). When you raise a steer and butcher it for beef, you’re not going to like it when a fellow progressive insists you “redistribute” that beef to people who have no stake in your farm but demand a cut because, well, it’s not “fair” you have so much meat even though you invested time, effort and money in raising the animal.
Instead, you’re going to want others to butt out. When you embrace the challenge of producing your own food, you realize it’s your own business who gets your strawberries or beef. Your definition of social justice becomes redefined.
Dave Duffy wrote a superb book entitled “Can America Be Saved From Stupid People?” In it he writes, “Self-reliance is, as far as I’m concerned, another word for freedom. The more self-reliant you are, the more free you are. The more you rely on yourself, the less dependent you are on society, especially on Big Government. The more people in America who become self-reliant, the freer America becomes as a nation.”
There’s a reason social justice and wealth redistribution were not tenets of the Constitution and Bill of Rights: they impinge on personal freedom and self-reliance.
To all liberals who are exploring self-reliance, I extend the hand of welcome. You won’t regret the freedom that comes with less government intrusion.
Just be prepared for a perceptual readjustment. The mental gymnastics you previously used to justify your SJW logic will become more difficult, until you’ll finally be forced to capitulate and understand what the Founding Fathers meant by freedom.
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